Dependency / DCF Cases
If so, you have the right to have an attorney present at all stages of the dependency proceedings. The initiation of a DCF investigation is a very serious matter that could result in a loss of parental rights. Florida law requires that child abuse, child neglect, and abandonment be reported to the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF). When the Department of Children and Families receive a report of alleged child abuse, abandonment or neglect, an investigation is launched to determine if enough evidence exists for the state to remove the child. DCF frequently removes children if there is evidence suggesting that the parents used drugs in the presence of children or if a domestic violence incident occurred in the presence of children. Even if the prosecution does not file criminal charges or if the criminal charges are dismissed, DCF may decline to return the children to the home. Once a child is removed from parental care, a shelter hearing is set within 24 hours to determine whether the child should be kept in shelter placement or released to parental custody. In most criminal cases, the burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove that the crime occurred. This is not always true for Florida DCF cases. In these cases, parents are often responsible for proving that no abuse occurred.
At Edwards & Jones, our defense attorneys understand the unique aspects of dependency laws at all stages of the DCF process to include:
- DCF Investigation
- Shelter Hearing
- Arraignment Hearing
- DCF Case Planning
- Dependency Petition
- Adjudicatory Hearing
- Disposition Hearing
- Judicial Review Hearing
- Permanency Hearing
- Termination of Parental Rights
Whether the DCF has just initiated an investigation or have already removed a child from your custody, our criminal defense lawyers can represent your interests against allegations of abuse, abandonment or neglect. Innocent events can be reported as abuse, and DCF has a low burden of proof when deciding to remove children from their homes. We also work with parents whose children have previously been removed and wish to have their case opened for review under juvenile dependency laws. If you are a custodian who cares for placed children, our attorneys can represent your petition to maintain a child's placement. In cases where the parental rights have been terminated by an order of the court, we can provide the necessary legal guidance for the prospective adopting parents. Dependency cases are emotionally charged events, and we are here to guide you through the process. Call our office at 352.377.7800 to discuss your needs.
DISCLAIMER: This website does not seek to nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship. The content is provided "as is" and should not be construed as legal advice on any matter of criminal defense. You should seek immediate legal counsel following notification of a DCF investigation or shelter hearing.